This past summer, I spent two weeks sailing Croatia’s amazing coast from Dubrovnik north to Spilt. While I was visiting, tasting Croatian wine was not at the top of my list of things to do, as I never would have thought of Croatia as a wine destination. So, you can only imagine my surprise when our guide suggested a tour and tasting at a family run farm in Stari Grad. Being the wine lover that I am, I jumped at the chance to spend the day visiting the countryside, seeing the animals, and of course, sampling some incredible wine.
After pulling into our port, we hopped on a shuttle to take us to the vineyards about 45 minutes away to the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad Plain between Stari Grad and Vrboska. The Zuvela Family runs the farm and vineyard – the same family who also run the Marinero Restaurant and Hostel in town. The tour was very interesting, and our guide was extremely knowledgably and had lots of fun facts to share regarding Croatian wine country. After the tour and tasting, we were served four full glasses of wine with homemade bread, olive oil, and assorted meats and dried fish – all for only 110 Kuna ($18 USD).
My favorite wine was the first white they served called Bogdanuša, which translates to “given by god.” Bogdanuša is a white grape varietal that has a beautiful green-yellow/golden color. It is traditionally drunk during religious ceremonies and celebrations, hence its name.
Going into the wine tour and tasting, my expectations were not very high. But little did I know Croatia has a long history of winemaking going back to the fourth century B.C.! Croatia's long history of wine production has left it with a rich tradition of indigenous varietals, some of these have been so successful that they are well distributed throughout Croatia, yet remain relatively known outside the country.
Croatia’s wine producing regions are split up into two main areas, continental “Kontinetalna” which includes Croatia’s mainland and coastal “Primorska”, which includes the thousands of islands that make up Croatia’s coastal region. Stari Grad is located on the northern side of the island of Hvar and is one of the oldest towns in Europe. The prevailing climate features hot summers with occasional thunderstorms (which we experienced our first day, it even hailed!) and short, mild, wet winters.
The day we visited the vineyards at Stari Grad Plain was one of my favorite days spent in Croatia. I made it a point to sample the wine at each establishment I visited from that point on and was thoroughly pleased with each sip!